EL PASO, Texas (AP) - Michael Doleac had 15 points as No. 5 Utah beat Texas-El Paso 71-49 Thursday night to move a step closer to claiming the top seed in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament.
Utah (24-2, 11-2) came into the game trailing New Mexico by one game in the WAC's Mountain Division. But New Mexico (21-5, 1121) lost 83-62 to Brigham Young, setting up a first-place showdown when the 11th-ranked Lobos visit Utah on Saturday.
A Utah victory was never really in doubt as the Utes used a 10-2 run to take a decisive 59-33 lead with 7:31 remaining and coasted from there.
Andre Miller opened the scoring binge with an easy layup at the 11:33 mark, and Doleac added eight points on two buckets and two free throws over the next four minutes.
The Utes were sluggish during parts of the game, but never led by less than 14 points in the second half and led by 26 points four times.
Miller scored 10 points and was the only other Utah player to finish in double digits.
Brandon Wolfram and William Smith led the Miners with 13 points apiece. UTEP shot only 35 percent, 19 of 55.
An easy fastbreak score by Miller that gave Utah a 51-31 lead with 11:33 remaining typified the Miner's sloppy play. UTEP's Jon Bomba was trying to hand the ball to Smith when Miller slipped between them and took the ball the length of the court for the score.
In the first half, Utah went on a 12-0 run starting at 13:27 with David Jackson's only basket of the half and capped by Doleac's three-point play to build a 20-7 lead with less than 10 minutes left.
The Utes, who led by as much as 31-16 with about two minutes remaining, did not allow the Miners to get closer than 10 points the rest of the way as they held UTEP to a cold 8 of 27 from the field to go up 31-19 at the half.